Sunday, February 26, 2012

My Nutty Valentine

Dear Mouse,

Happy (Belated) Valentines!

& Love is in the air ...(R to L: The Boo & Butley, The Theatre Dog)

Thanks for picking up the slack with two excellent posts while I was orbiting Planet Show. This was definitely the most strenuous, action-packed two weeks in my personal work history. The short version: it took two "10 out of 12" days and one "8 out of 10" to get through every technical cue in this multimedia epic ... once. Preview performances began last Tuesday. We rehearsed all day each day, made changes, and performed at night. Two nights in, the entire second act was rewritten significantly and put onstage within 48 hrs. We finally opened Friday night after a final day of rehearsal, breathed a sigh of relief ... and then performed the show twice on saturday and twice on Sunday. I stopped even pretending to get dressed in the morning, and the costume department has had to take in my first-act Guatemalan Shorts twice (a fringe benefit I suppose.) At the moment it is 630PM and I am already in pajamas, digesting a Short Ends Platter and a Coors Light from Gates BBQ and blogging from bed, where I will likely stay until our 930AM call to do the show for school kids at 10AM! tomorrow.

Let me say at this time that I realize nothing is more annoying than a working artist complaining about how exhausting it is to Live The Dream, so I will stop there and tell the whole truth: that my Valentine's Week was aces, and that I am feeling utterly grateful for the opportunity to work this hard, to learn this much ... and eat this sandwich:

The "Nutty Girl" Sandwich and a large LatteLand Coffee.
(this sandwich tends to sell out at LL. If you miss it there, go to the actual The Nutty Girl, a cafe & juice bar in nearby Westport, where I will be spending my next morning off. )

Nutty Girl at Home. Poor lighting.

So I realize that in the past I may have said the words "Best Sandwich in the World" before, maybe even more than once. But that doesn't mean I can't say and mean them again. After all, is there really only One Right Sandwich out there for each of us? For example, the "Spicy Godfather" at Graham Avenue Meats and Deli in East Williamsburg - that's a hell of a time. I'll never forget it. The first time I ate it, it transported me. It was exciting. It was (duh) spicy. It gave me so much - I had to give half of it to Leon - I thought I could never want more from lunchtime. It also completely destroyed my stomach before a matinee, but I went back for more. It was just that good.

Godfather, we'll always have Brooklyn. But a girl has to move on.

Call me fickle, but there's a new lunch in town. And I've been eating it for breakfast. It's glorious. What sounded like a list of wacky, mismatched ingredients turned out to be a charming little stack of tasty harmony. It is nourishing and sturdy and not-too-sweet. It will get you through tech. It is packed with energy and entirely plant-based. AND it is nutty, sweet, and orange - a little valentine to your 2nd chakra.

The Nutty Girl a la LatteLand KC
(because I'll have to make them myself back in NYC, let's all start now)
2 slices some kinda nutty/multigrain/sprouted bread
a generous slather of cashew butter
shredded carrots
thin slices granny smith apple
thin slices extra sharp cheddar


The Boo

Thursday, February 23, 2012

My Spanish Love

Dear Boo,

We have so much to catch up on. You're out in barbeque land making art and changing the world. I'm here in NYC plugging away at this job where people ask me questions like I actually KNOW something, and I have to go around all day repeating the serenity prayer to remind myself I have no control over other people as much as I might pretend I do. I've been meaning to tell you about some especially thrilling meetings I've got about some writing projects and share my excitement about this little film I did making its premiere at SXSW in March. And I want to hear about your previews, about learning a new scene in the afternoon and performing it at night. And how you've been managing with just a hot plate. Oh, there's so much to talk about!

But instead I feel compelled to put all that aside to tell you about my new love. I know you won't judge my priorities.
It's called a tortilla, although I don't really get why*, since it looks more like a frittata to me and I've always known a tortilla to be a round flat piece of wheat or corn bread product that you stuff delicious things in. But then I don't pretend to be as culturally sensitive or knowledgeable in the kitchen as I am when I'm wearing my social work hat. Mostly I just make things that I know will taste good, and then I eat them. And man, is this one up my alley.

It's eggs, but it's really more about the potatoes and onions and olive oil, which let's face it, is really how I like my eggs--more as a conduit for vegetables, meats, cheeses, or sugar, than the star of the show. Its a breakfast food, a late night tapas snack, a perfectly portable lunch, and pile up a few greens slicked with a nice tart dressing and you've got a perfectly satisfying dinner. And did I mention you can make it ahead of time and serve it at room temperature? Which also makes it the perfect thing to serve for a brunch with friends. And it's cheap! So cheap! Oh, the reasons to make this are endless. The only reason not to, as I can see it, is if you live anywhere near The Commons and can buy a slice of their Tortilla Espa˜ola, which while it pains me to say it, is far superior to my homemade version. But give me time. I've only just begun cycling this through my repetoire and I have big plans for my next shot at it.

Some advice for trying this at home:
- Salt is your friend, but it's eggs' soulmate. Use it liberally, at every stage.
- Maybe it's not authentic, but tossing in whatever other veggies you have lying around couldn't hurt. They'll just benefit from the silky, creamy, unctuous treatment they'll get from slow-cooking with a ton of olive oil and potatoes.
- Be bold. The only hard part of this recipe is making the necessary flip, though some versions I came across say a broiler is perfectly fine to finish it off. But I say go for it. It feels pretty damn good when you get it right.

Break a leg tonight! I can't wait to hear how it goes. When I'm able to pull myself away from my new Spanish obsession, let's talk.

Tortilla Espanola

adapted by the Mouse from various recipes...

1.5 cups oil
2.5 pounds yukon gold potatoes, peeled, quartered and sliced thinly (like 1/3 in thick)
2.5 cups chopped onion
1 tablespoon coarse salt
10 large eggs
lots of salt and pepper

Heat oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderate heat until hot but not smoking and add potatoes and onion along with a hefty sprinkling of salt. Cook over moderately low heat, stirring frequently and carefully, until vegetables are very tender but not colored, about 30 minutes. Lift veggies out of the oil with a slotted spoon, letting excess oil drip off. Pour off oil left in pan and set aside. Alternately, you can transfer them into a colander over a bowl and drain for a few minutes. Lightly beat eggs in a large bowl and add salt and a few cracks of pepper. Add the potato and onion mixture to the eggs and season again.

Return 1 tablespoon of the reserved oil to skillet and add mixture, pressing potatoes flush with eggs. Cook over low heat, covered, 12 to 15 minutes, or until almost set. Turn off heat and let stand for a few minutes. Shake skillet gently to make sure tortilla is set on bottom and not sticking to skillet. Slide tortilla onto plate. Cover it with skillet and invert tortilla back into skillet. Round edge with a rubber spatula and cook over low heat, 15 minutes more, or until set. Slide tortilla onto a serving plate and let cool for a few minutes before slicing into wedges. Serve warm or at room temperature, or really however you like.


The Mouse

*Sure, I could do some research, but why bother when I know one of our know-it-all readers will happily jump-to and educate me in the comments? :)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Party of the Year


That evening. AMY, CELIA, and DAVID are sitting down to dinner at the kitchen table. Celia is unpacking bags of chinese food and AMY is drinking a glass of wine.

Shit. Where… shit.
They forgot the dumpling sauce.
You sure?
There's soy sauce packets here. If you want.
Dad, that's totally different. I want the dumpling sauce to go with the dumplings I ordered. Fuck.
We can have it without. Soy sauce is fine for me.
Me too. Give it here, Amy.
(She passes him the dumplings. He spears one with his fork and pops it in his mouth just as CELIA dives at him)
Jesus. You almost made me choke.
Don't eat them until we get the sauce. Please. I'm asking you.
Okay, Celia. Calm down.
I'm calm. I just want what I ordered.
(She goes to the phone and picks it up to dial.)
I ordered it. You heard me. I said dumplings./
/We got the dumplings-
/Hello? Hell-HI. Yes. I just picked up my order. The name is Benson. B-E-N-yes, that's right. Well we ordered dumplings but they came without the sauce. Yes, we’ve got all the packets of soy sauce. But we're missing the DUMPLING SAUCE. What is it?. It's some kind of brown sauce that you dip dumplings in---I don't know, I'm not the chef! It's whatever you always put in with the dumplings. Well if it's your first day ask someone else there. I'm sure they can show you. Please. What I'd like, is for someone to come drop off some dumpling sauce. Can I please-(to AMY) He's got me on hold. Jesus.
Celia, forget it.
No. I can't eat them like this.

- Proof that true to our tagline, the Mouse is incapable of writing anything that doesn't at least reference a snack.

Dear Boo,

So, I wrote this play. And um, it's gonna get produced.

Shoot. Just typing that makes my palms sweat.

But seriously, it's happening. Know how I know this? There's a benefit this Sunday to raise money for my theater company's upcoming season, a season which includes said play. Which means people are going to come, and give money, and raise a glass, and bid on auction items and clap us on the back and take postcards home, and eat hors d'oeuvres, all in good faith that come this June, my play will hit the boards. Which means as much as I may want to, in my weaker moments, I can't just burn the evidence, pack my bags, and move to Kyrgyzstan.

Wait, I can't, right?

Okay, okay, just asking.

What's the big deal, you may say (well, you wouldn't say it because I know you know just how I feel)? The truth is, I think of myself as a lot of things: an actor. a social worker. a food blogger. a home cook. a good eater. a fairly entertaining karaoke singer. a sometime fiction writer. But a playwright?

That's the thing about being part of a company of incredible artists with whom you have forged a real home, a haven, even, for your soul and spirit. You start to think you're all kinds of things, all kinds of people, that you can do all kinds of things you never before thought about doing, never would have dared to do, and not only do you start to THINK these things, but before you know it, you might actually DO some of them. And then you're really screwed.

The point is, I miss you. You see, this Sunday I'm going to have to get dressed up and go to this party and I'm going to have to be all, "Hi, I'm the Mouse. I'm the playwright. I wrote a play. And people are going to be saying my words out loud in public like I think I've got something to say that's worth listening to." And that is oh so scary. And I just wish I had my big sister with me to give me a peptalk and make sure I have a cocktail in my hand at all times.

Of course, I also wish you could come because this is going to be one hell of a party and one that a Mouse and a Boo would find particularly exciting. Not only will there be things like fried bay scallops with preserved lemon and parsley sauce (yum), pulled pork dumplings with asian pesto (yumm), and mushroom and truffle croquettes (yummm). But we have a truly incredible list of liquor sponsors*, who have been very generous with us and who will have to forgive me when I get a little sloppy because how can I not at least TRY each of our offerings?? And not only do we have these amazing sponsors, but we have an unbelievable host, Dushan Zaric, world-renown mixologist and restauranteur (Macao Trading Company, and Employees Only which was named the world's best cocktail bar in 2011), who is not only lending us his gorgeous venue but has personally created each and every specialty cocktail on the menu for this special night.

I'm including one of the cocktail recipes below with a humble request. On Sunday, some time between 7 and 10 pm, while I am in Manhattan and you are in KC, please mix yourself up one of these (or the closest approximation you can manage), think of me, send me a little mental comforting squeeze, give thanks to the universe for art and food, the generosity of those who allow us to indulge in both, and the freedom and luck to do it in abundance. Raise your glass, and knock it back for me.


The Mouse

*Tuthilltown Spirits, Whistle Pig Straight Rye Whiskey, Don Q Rum, Semental Tequila, Michael Collins Irish Whiskey, Barenjager Honey Liqueur, Brooklyn Gin, A.I. Selections, Polaner Selections, Wind Gap. WE LOVE YOU!!